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Malaysian Netflix challenger iflix is now flush with cash after securing a new round of investment, and is targeting emerging markets where piracy has previously reigned.
Malaysian video-on-demand service iflix has raised USD90 million in a new round of investment, provided by the London-based cable firm Liberty Global and telecommunication firm Zain, which is based in Kuwait. Existing investors Sky, Evolution Media Capital (EMC), and Catcha Group, the company of Co-Founder Patrick Grove, also committed to the new round. Sky committed a USD45 million last year, while Catcha Group and EMC provided an initial USD30 million to start the project in 2015.
In February, Zain and iflix set another milestone with the establishment of iflix Arabia, a joint venture that will be based in Dubai to expand into the Middle East and North Africa. Besides Kuwait, Zain is present in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, markets that iflix can add to its global footprint with the potential of growing further. The commercial launch of iflix's Internet TV service across the MENA region is planned for the second quarter of 2017. Thus far, iflix has launched in nine markets in Asia with a total of 5 million subscribers. With Zain's 47 million customers, the joint venture will leverage the mobile operator's established market leadership. With MENA's large youth population, rapidly growing internet and smartphone penetration, and appetite for digital content and entertainment, iflix Arabia sees opportunities ahead.
In a recent interview with TBY, Co-Founder and Group CEO Mark Britt expressed that iflix is not really competing with the likes of Netflix, as it focuses on different markets and has a pricing that is one-third of Netflix' monthly fee. Rather, iflix competes with piracy, “which in emerging markets more often is a matter of convenience rather than a moral question," said Britt. '"or the price of one pirated DVD, roughly three dollars, you get access to more than 15,000 hours of online content."
iflix is ambitious; “there are more than 2.5 billion people with smartphones in emerging markets who have a passion for cultural influences from around the globe and want access to the best entertainment content available," Britt adds. The service aims for 1 billion users worldwide by 2020.
iflix was co-founded by Patrick Grove in 2015, a Singaporean-Australian internet entrepreneur who successfully brought five companies from startup to IPO, including the online classifieds portals iProperty, iCar Asia, Rev Asia, and the investment firm for emerging markets Frontier Digital Ventures.
iflix recently added complementary HD streaming to its services, and has also implemented a special feature to download TV shows and movies for offline viewing. The service is now live in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brunei, the Maldives, and Pakistan and is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur.